Lots of businesses are now looking to switch-up the ways they manage their fieldworkers.
With affordable digital tools and real-time systems, companies of all shapes and sizes can move to smarter, safer and more effective ways to manage a mobile workforce.
But apart from the software and services - what do you actually need? What are the tools of the trade for today’s digitally connected mobile worker?
Here’s a look:
This is a brief list because, apart from a vehicle, there’s really only one item that a mobile worker requires:
A smartphone and a digital workforce management app will provide everything that an employee needs to do their job. This includes:
- Schedules - time and location of each job
- Job/task details - instructions, maps, diagrams etc
- Policy checks - on-screen notifications/reminders
- Forms/reports - job information that needs to be recorded
- Customer/client feedback - input via touchscreen
With this information being handled in real-time, it means that mobile workers can always access the latest information. If a time or job task changes, they know about straight way - no need for calls, texts etc.
It’s a tool which removes the need for workers to carry around bundles of paperwork, clipboards, maps, plans, folders, pens and all the rest of the bits and bobs required with a traditional approach.
You can find out more about the benefits of paperless mobile working in this guide.
What kind of smartphone is required?
- Battery life
- Screen size
It depends on the nature of the work but for general mobile service operations, a standard consumer phone is absolutely fine. This can either be provided by the employer as a dedicated work device or employees can use their personal devices.
The basic requirements for a smartphone are things that even the most basic of today’s budget devices will provide - GPS, camera, touchscreen and data connectivity. But while any phone will do the job, there are certain features that mark out a device as being particularly suited to mobile working:
The main challenge with mobile devices is making sure they stay charged. It’s becoming less of an issue as battery technology continues to improve but the longer it can last, the better.
When a phone is used as a working tool, it’s liable to take a few more bumps and knocks than you would normally expect. Lower budget phones, with a chunkier design than costlier alternatives, often make some of the best mobile working devices.
A decent sized display helps when it comes to field workers viewing information such as diagrams and site plans. It also makes it easier for customers or clients to use if they’re using the touch screen to provide a signature.
Really useful kit
- Phone charger
- Bluetooth headset
- Windscreen mount
Apart from a smartphone, there are additional items that make life easier for a mobile worker. Again, these will depend on the type of work that’s being done but here are some typical extras:
Whether it’s a simple in-vehicle USB lead or an external unit, a charger will help to safeguard against phones running out of juice. For workers who operate away from a vehicle, portable chargers can easily boost a battery while stored in a pocket or utility belt.
If a phone is being used while a mobile worker is driving within the UK, there’s a legal requirement for them to have everything they need to operate hands-free. A Bluetooth headset also comes in handy when taking calls while carrying out tasks.
Another legal requirement for taking calls while on the road is for a device to be properly mounted, either on the windscreen or dashboard. It’s also required if a phone is being used as a sat nav.
Optional extras kit
There’s a vast range of other gadgets available for mobile workers that can help handle specific tasks.
A stylus can help mobile workers to more accurately input information into a smartphone. It also helps to stop the screen getting smeared with finger marks. It can be particularly useful if a device is being used by customers to capture a signature.
If mobile workers needs to see a phone display during a job - to check instructions or view a plan - then a phone stand can be a great help. This can be either a grip or a tripod style stand, to allow the display to be read.
If work activities are particularly physical then storing a phone in a pocket can be risky. A better option is a holster which better protects the device and allows it to be securely attached to a belt or harness.